Palestinian Refugees Killed in Israeli Border Protest

Rallies on the anniversary of Israel's creation turn bloody

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More than a dozen Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon were killed and hundreds were injured Sunday during a series of coordinated protests aimed at the four borders of Israel, reports the New York Times.

Every year in mid-May, many Palestinians mark what they call "Nakba," or the catastrophe, the anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. But this year, Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon tried to breach the Israeli military border in marches inspired by recent protests around the Arab world. Once again, news about the rallies were spread via social media.

But at the Lebanese border, Israeli troops shot at hundreds of Palestinians trying to cross, killing 10 protesters and wounding more than 100, the Lebanese military said. At the Golan Heights, about 100 Palestinians living in Syria breached a border fence. Troops fired on the crowd, killing four of them. Al-Jazeera reports that "dozens" of Palestinians were injured after crossing into a Gaza Strip "buffer zone."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called the protests "violent demonstrations" over "the very existence of Israel which they describe as a catastrophe that must be resolved. While he said that he instructed Israeli forces to act with restraint, but to stop all attempts at infiltration and challenges to Israel's sovereignty.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised address to mark Nakba that those killed were martyrs to the Palestinian cause, Reuters reports. "Their precious blood will not be wasted. It was spilled for the sake of our nation's freedom," he said.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.